Digital Nomad Life During Coronavirus

Girl in flower blossoms in Austrian countryside
[Hanging out with blossoms isn’t so bad]
This is a weird and scary time for everyone. In reality, I know I’m pretty lucky in my current situation.

But I thought it might be interesting to share what being nomadic and not really having a ‘home’ is like when a pandemic hits.

So, let’s back up and I’ll start from the beginning. Back when everyone had a normal amount of toilet paper in their closet and hand sanitizer wasn’t being upsold for $484993.

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VIP Kid Background & Classroom Set Up Tips for Traveling Teachers

VIP Kid background and classroom set up ideas for traveling online English teachers

Being a nomadic teacher is SO FUN, let me tell you. Teaching for VIP Kid is pretty much the reason that I’m still able to travel so much!

BUT it also means I have to get a little creative with my VIP Kid background and set up sometimes. Like attaching cardboard to the back of a chair kind of creative.

And that my background has to be portable, too, and not take up too much space in my already overflowing suitcase (packing is hard, but my nomadic packing list for Europe makes life a little easier).

Here are my suggestions after a year of teaching while traveling:

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VIP Kid Props List for Beginning & Nomadic Teachers

Must have props for traveling and new VIP Kid and online English teachers!

Yeah, I get it. You JUST got hired to teach English online for VIP Kid and are wondering, well, what the heck do I use for props? And no, VIP Kid doesn’t currently provide any props of their own, but nor do they require you to purchase any (although they do ask you to have some for the interview – you can always make those, though). However, they certainly make teaching (and traveling) easier!

Or, you’re wanting to start traveling (as soon as that whole, you know, pandemic thing comes to an end) and are like, I can’t bring everything with me, so what SHOULD I TAKE WITH ME?

Do not fear, fellow VIP Kid teacher! Before you stuff your suitcase full of Dinos or throw away all your hard earned cash, let me assure you: You do NOT need to choose VIP Kid props over an extra pair of shoes or spend hundreds on things you’ll probably never use.

A whiteboard is an important prop for VIP Kid teachers
[My whiteboard is LIFE]
If I’m being honest, I don’t use as many props as I used to because I feel like it can kinda take away from the lesson at times, and some of the kids really don’t seem to care anyway.

Plus, when I’m teaching back to back to back lessons, I just don’t have time during the 5 minute break in between lessons to reorganize everything. That time is used for jotting down notes that I’ll later use in feedback (idk how anyone has figured out how to finish it during or right after the lesson – I’m still on team #doitlater).

I’m also usually able to find things around the house if needed most of the time, too. Need to show a student what a cube is? Great, I’ll use a tissue box! Lesson on food? I’ll grab an egg from the kitchen.

Being a VIP Kid teacher is a great job for a digital nomad! You really don’t have to take too much with you, and you can pretty much teach from anywhere as long as the wifi is strong enough.

Here are my favorite VIP Kid props that I drag along with me:

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5 Ways I’ve Made Money Online & Tips for Finding Remote Jobs

How I've gotten remote jobs and made money online working from home, including freelance writing, teaching English online, virtual assistant work, and more! #remotework #remotejobs

How’s your quarantine going? What day are you on? Have you made friends with and drawn a face on any fruits and/or vegetables you have lying around a la Wilson from Cast Away?

I am currently on my way to becoming BFFs with one of the oranges in my fruit basket. You?

But why not get paid during this extra free time you have? It’s 2020, and remote work is here to stay!

I personally do all my work remotely and really enjoy the freedom (ironic much?) it gives me. I make my own hours and take on the work I want when I want. I’m really working to try and diversify my income as I don’t want to put all my eggs in one little basket, so here’s what I’ve done in the past year since becoming a digital nomad to make money online.

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A Week in the Life of a Digital Nomad in Bansko, Bulgaria

A week in the life of digital nomad in Bansko, Bulgaria, including cost of living.
[The view of the woods from the gondola up to the slopes]
Wondering what life is like for digital nomads in Bansko, Bulgaria? Or what the cost of living is like? What is there to do? What exactly is Bulgaria like??? If you have these questions, well, I’ve got answers!

I spent 3 months at Coworking Bansko, from December to March. I really loved spending the colder months in a real “winter” destination (it is a ski resort, after all!), although it was an unseasonably warm year. In my head, snow would fall continuously as I looked out my balcony window. Inside, I would be cuddled up with a chunky knit blanket and a cup of tea while fairy lights twinkled and a fire roared in the fireplace.

House in the woods in Bansko, Bulgaria
[Saw this house on our hike to the monastery in Bansko]
But as you can imagine, that was not the case. My winter wonderland fantasy was unfortunately trumped (pun intended?) by unseasonably warm weather. Think temperatures in the 40’s F (like 4-8 C, finally starting to understand Celsius after being in Europe for over a year LOL) and sunny (an abomination) most of the time. Nor did my apartment have a fireplace.

Ah well, I still really enjoyed my time in Bansko! So much that I’m already planning to head back, possibly as early as summer!

I thought it might be fun to show what an average week might look like. And since Bansko is a little bit more affordable than other destinations in Western Europe, I decided to track my spending, too (I should probably be doing this anyway…).

To be honest, I probably I could have saved more but I was too busy having lots of fun with new friends…Ooops. But gotta live, ya know?

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How to Become a Digital Nomad: What I Wish I Knew

How to get started as a digital nomad, remote worker, or location independent! Tips for living the digital nomad lifestyle and for becoming a digital nomad are in this blog post.

So you want to become a digital nomad but just aren’t sure, like, how? How does one go from owning an apartment with a 9-5 job to essentially being homeless in a foreign country?

I feel ya – becoming location independent was something I knew I wanted to do for at least a full year before actually taking the leap! I KNEW I wanted to travel and have more freedom, but felt totally overwhelmed even starting to think about all the logistics.

For me, I had an extremely (un)healthy obsession with Europe. I’d wanted to visit ever since I was a kid, and knew I wanted to see more of it after putting my first foot (well, and then the second) on English soil during a study abroad program in university.

I was working at an environmental nonprofit in California. I loved my job, but was tired of Bay Area life and wanted something new. (Here’s more about how & why I left, in addition to how I navigated my first year of digital nomad life!)

I really wanted to travel and experience different places for longer than the standard 2 weeks of vacation time in America (although I was one of the ‘lucky’ ones because my job gave me 3, lol).

I desperately wanted to feel what it was like to live in various places on my favorite continent (the aforementioned Europe).

Digital nomad life in Plovdiv, Bulgaria - Here's how to live a location independent lifestyle!
[Exploring Plovdiv, Bulgaria on an overnight trip from Bansko]
I wanted to spend the summer in Greece, swimming and eating Spanikopita from bakeries.

I wanted to hunker down and live out a winter fantasy in the Arctic, watching the Northern lights from my porch.

I wanted to bike through rural Ireland while volunteering on a farm.

And I wanted to meet all the European men – what IS IT about accents???

That said, keep in mind that working while you travel is VERY different from just traveling.

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House Sitting: How to Travel & Get Free Accommodation Around the World

How to start house sitting and traveling the world for free! House sitting gives you free accommodation, which allows you to spend money on what you really want! This was a view from one of my house sits in Norway.
[A view from my house sit in Norway]
How exactly do I travel as much as I do and NOT spend $37334069584 a year on accommodation?

House sitting.

I’ll say it a little louder for the people in the back: HOUSE SITTING!!!

What exactly is house (and pet) sitting?

If people own pets, they’ll need someone to look after them when they go on their sunny vacay. That’s where I (you!) come in. So far, I’ve watched a total of 6 dogs, 15 cats, and 1 snake (but like, not all at once lol). Occasionally, someone will post a sit where all you need to do is water their garden or get their mail, but I’d say 98% of the time they have pets.

I love it personally – I’d LOVE to have a cat or dog, but I don’t want to right now since I still like to travel so much. So this is the perfect way to get some animal time (aka cuddle time) in without actually having one of my own!

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One Day in Melnik, Bulgaria

One day itinerary for Melnik, Bulgaria including wine, the Rozhen Monastery, Melnik Pyramids, and the best view of the town!
[Want to see this view? Read on!]
I’m mainly writing this post out of my own frustration. It was SO HARD to find much information on what to do in Melnik, Bulgaria! Maybe because it’s also the smallest town in Bulgaria?

Melnik is a really cute little town located in southern Bulgaria. Known for its wine, Melnik is a fantastic stop for any lover of fermented grapes. We also saw so many signs for different flavors of wine – I really wanted to try them all, but we were driving, so I had to make do with just the raspberry…

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